This past May, 2013 Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship alumni, Ardi Jusufi of Kosovo and Nicole Osuji of France led and helped organize the program “Youth Council & Law” under the Youth Council of the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo. The Youth Council is an initiative that was established under the guidance of the U.S. Embassy in 2014. It aims to empower and promote the youth of Kosovo by providing them with the means to channel their potential. One of the founding principles of the council is to gather young leaders committed to peace and community service.
The “Youth Council & Law” program was organized in cooperation with the Law Faculty of the University of Pristina. A group of thirty students from the University of Pristina and universities in Prizren and Mitrovica participated in the program, which engaged them in practical and concrete activities that pertained to their studies on the United States and Kosovo judicial systems. Students with little experience were selected in order to help them fill gaps in their knowledge and hone their personal and professional skills. The program aimed to give students the right tools to understand how the law is upheld in Kosovo and in the United States as well as the role of international institutions in Kosovo.
The program took place over the course of four days. On the first day, participants took a field trip to the Palace of Justice and met with Gabrille Sbano from European Union External Action (EULEX) to discuss how EULEX interacts with the national judicial and police systems, as well as the shortcomings of Kosovo’s current judicial system. Throughout the week participants received trainings on public speaking and cross-examination, with support from two experienced U.S. lawyers. The program culminated in a mock trial centered on a school bullying case and finished with a graduation ceremony at Alliance Françoise of Pristina.
The participants were thankful for the opportunity to participate in this program, which will undoubtedly open new doors for them. The program gave the law students valuable practical experience. The overall success of the project has prompted calls for its continuation with new groups of students.